Douglas County in Colorado is ranked the healthiest county in the country.
The news doesn’t surprise Colorado natives Amber Jaworsky and Kristin Gibowicz, who are both yoga instructors.
They say physical activity is contagious in Douglas County.
“If you're sitting at your kitchen table looking out the window and there’s 15 people riding their bikes by and everybody is walking their dogs, you're [kind of] like, ‘Dang, I got to get my butt moving!’” says Jaworsky.
The pair says say their mental health is just as important as their physical health.
“Just getting out, breathing fresh air and slowing your mind down a little bit, putting your phone down disconnecting,” Gibowicz says of maintaining her mental health.
Gibowicz says mental health has everything to do with physical health, and she’s right.
Diabetes and smoking have the strongest correlation in reducing life expectancy. However, mental health was nearly as strong.
Researchers say mental health did not have as strong of an effect last year. But it's in line with information from the Centers from Disease Control (CDC) that showed rising opioid overdoses and suicides shorten life expectancy.
“There's some national research that looks at a concept they called deaths of despair,” explains Nancy VanDeMark, with Mental Health Colorado.
VanDeMark says those are things many people struggle with like depression, suicide, alcohol and drug use.
That's why she says we should treat mental like we do our physical and get checkups and screenings.
“We have a screening site on our website so people can go in and complete a number of screenings to see if they're high risk for some sort of mental health or substance use concern,” VanDeMark says.
More information can be found